Friday, September 30, 2011

Just PLEAT it

Photographer Mark Shaw - Vanity Fair 1953

What is my obsession of the moment? PLEATS! There is nothing that screams FALL to me than a Vintage wool pleated skirt with boots and a great blazer & fitted T-shirt, turtleneck or cowl neck sweater.

Pleats have been a staple design element in fashion for centuries. Did you know there are 11 different types of pleats, each with a different technique and look?

Accordion pleats
are the most basic form of pleat, consisting of a series of permanent folds of equal width in alternating opposite directions. When pressed flat in one direction, accordion pleats become knife pleats. Accordion pleats are rarely used in dressmaking, but are used to make folding fans.

Box pleats are knife pleats back-to-back, and have a tendency to spring out from the waistline. They have the same 3:1 ratio as knife pleats, and may also be stacked to form stacked box pleats. These stacked box pleats create more fullness and have a 5:1 ratio. They also create a bulkier seam. Inverted box pleats have the "box" on the inside rather than the outside.

Cartridge pleats are used to gather a large amount of fabric into a small waistband or armscye without adding bulk to the seam. This type of pleating also allows the fabric of the skirt or sleeve to spring out from the seam. During the 15th and 16th centuries, this form of pleating was popular in the garments of men and women. Fabric is evenly gathered using two or more lengths of basting stitches, and the top of each pleat is whipstitched onto the waistband or armscye. Cartridge pleating was resurrected in the 1840s to attach the increasingly full bell-shaped skirts to the fashionable narrow waist. Alexander McQueens Final collection
Cartridge Pleat Gown

Fluted pleats or flutings are very small, rounded or pressed pleats used as trimmings.The name comes from their resemblance to a pan flute. Vintage gown (Fluted Pleat Trim) ((SOLD))

Fortuny pleats are crisp pleats set in silk fabrics by designer Mariano Fortuny in the early 20th century, using a secret pleat-setting process which is still not understood.
Mrs Condé Nast wearing one of the Fortuny tea gowns C. 1917

Honeycomb pleats are narrow, rolled pleats used as a foundation for smocking. Knife pleats are used for basic gathering purposes, and form a smooth line rather than springing away from the seam they have been gathered to. The pleats have a 3:1 ratio–three inches of fabric will create one inch of finished pleat. .
Knife pleats can be recognized by the way that they overlap in the seam.
Organ pleats are parallel rows of softly rounded pleats resembling the pipes of a pipe organ. Carl Köhler suggests that these are made by inserting one or more gores into a panel of fabric.
Plissé pleats are narrow pleats set by gathering fabric with stitches, wetting the fabric, and "setting" the pleats by allowing the wet fabric to dry under weight or tension. Linen chemises or smocks pleated with this technique have been found in the 10th century Viking graves in Birka.
Hermes Plisse Pleated Silk Scarf

Rolled pleats create tubular pleats which run the length of the fabric from top to bottom. A piece of the fabric to be pleated is pinched and then rolled until it is flat against the rest of the fabric, forming a tube. A variation on the rolled pleat is the stacked pleat, which is rolled similarly and requires at least five inches of fabric per finished pleat. Both types of pleating create a bulky seam.
Watteau pleats are one or two box pleats found at the back neckline of 18th century gowns and some late 19th century tea gowns in imitation of these. The term is not contemporary, but is used by costume historians in reference to these styles as portrayed in the paintings of Antoine Watteau.

1700's Marie Antoinette Costume with Watteau pleats

Vivienne Westwood "Watteau Gown" 1996
Pleats are in the back

Gianni Versace 1990's Pleated Mini's

* Thanks to Wikipedia & other online sources for the Pleat definitions*

Mark Shaw Vanity Fair 1953

So .... Can you JUST PLEAT IT?

Check out this cute cream 40's pleated & lace dress sz. M

Buy it HERE
From Victory Vintage Boutique - Model: Brande Wilkerson (Owner)


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Label of LOVE

We all apply labels to everything we have in this life as part of the human condition to allow our minds to make positive or negative associations usually based on pre-conceived notions or beliefs and not always facts or feelings.

The labels we apply to objects rarely have repercussions or consequences. The same is not true with people. We are ALL guilty of judging and labelling others to suit our purpose, justify our behaviours or to confirm a belief system we have. What we don't stop to think is how that effects the other person or their lives. The news has been full of terrible tales of teen's committing suicide based on being bullied and judged for who they are.

Through history humans have been so vile to one another all simply based on ignorance (in both senses of the word).

Professional dancer, Dancing with the Stars PRO, world champion and champion for EQUALITY Louis Van Amstel brought my attention to the comments of Oklahoma state Rep. Sally Kern (R) who said "homosexuality poses a greater threat to America than terrorist attacks". After my initial shock at her verbal expression of her internal ignorance and character I really felt sad for her and all who share her belief - sadly there are many. Those who choose to hate, bully, or waste their time and energy judging others.

Equality, Acceptance and Tolerance of ANYONE who is different for their skin color, sexuality, life choices, size, or perceived disability is ESSENTIAL to our evolution as a human race. Although fiercely promoted as a gay/lesbian issue I really believe EQUALITY to be a HUMAN issue. Louis shares my belief of EQUALITY for ALL and I had a chance to ask Louis a few questions regarding his feeling on the issue recently;

LISA: Why are you so passionate about this cause?

LOUIS: I was bullied for being fat, gay and short which I learned to deal with growing up, but I'll never forget the feeling. It's humiliating and makes you feel so lonely. I don't wish anyone to have to go through those feelings, that's why I will do anything in my power to not only advocate against bullying, but also find ways what we can do about it together.

LISA: What bothered you the most about the recent comments from Sally Kerns?

LOUIS: At first a laughed, because I thought it was a joke. When I realized she was very serious about her statement "Homosexuals are more dangerous than terrorists" it got me so riled up I couldn't let it go. I felt humiliated and I relived the same feeling again as when I was bullied as a kid. So many people have worked hard to get where they're at in life, for some person, like Sally Kern, to dare to make that statement is devastating and uncalled for.

LISA: What inspired you to write to her? Did she reply to your letter?

LOUIS: Even though I'm not a father, suddenly I felt the need to stand up for all the kids that are being bullied today and have no voice. Writing Sally Kern was the right thing to do. Sally Kern has not replied to letter to her on twitter, but I'm sending it officially to her office. I'm doing my research right now to get it through the right channels!

LISA: What can people do to help get involved and stop the HATE and bullying?

LOUIS: Let your opinion be heard, but do it in a way you're not trying to change people's mind. Sharing your opinion is enough. If you fight fire with fire it only fuels the opposition. When we all start living life excepting each other's differences we wouldn't have the HATE issue, nor the bullying. Can you imagine a world where we would all be the same? Same skin color, same hair color, same religion, same personalities????? It's the diversity in all the above that makes the world go round.

LISA: Can you talk about how you use dance to build self esteem.

LOUIS: For years I used dance as therapy. Thank goodness for dance, because for a long time it was my way to express without ever having to say one word about my feelings. Feelings of loneliness, humiliation, embarrassment etc. On the outside I looked happy, but on the inside I was pretty much numb. It was the combination of my artistic expression through movement and winning dance competitions that gave me the power to deal with my self esteem. I turned into a rebel. My true self esteem started growing when I started learning to say 'NO' if it didn't feel right for me! I started realizing following my gut feeling, which was giving me such a good feeling about myself versus my insecure mind. I also saw how the outside world was respecting me for it. To be true to yourself is really hard work and it never ends, building self esteem through dance is just so much more fun!....and cheaper...(LAUGHS)

Louis is a tireless supporter of anti-bullying and NOH8 campaigns as well as supporting people with developmental/intellectual disabilities. He has a heart even larger than his many talents. He is currently self esteem building via dance fitness with his new movement called LA BLAST! (soon to be available on DVD). Read his Blog HERE

Louis, Myself & my husband David attending a Charity luncheon/Fashion Show for KAINOS - an organization that provides housing, education and vocational training to individuals with developmental disabilities. An AMAZING organization really helping people!

This is an issue that we are all responsible to discuss, live our lives by example and teach our children and those around us tolerance. Hating back and acting out in negativity only perpetuates the problem. We should explore and talk about these issues in an intelligent and educated way. Life should be a celebration of DIFFERENCES and what makes each of us unique. It is only then can we all reach our full potentials as human beings and begin to evolve in peace; LOVE being the only label.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday Motivation: WORK IT!

When I take time for myself I like to read. I'm obsessed with biographies, memoirs, true stories, motivational books or books filled with NON-FICTION essentially. The current book that has my attention is the latest from Russell Simmons entitled SUPER RICH: A Guide To Having it All.There is a lot more to this book that I have responded to, thought about and got inspired by that I will blog about soon but I felt compelled to set my book down and share this quote that I literally read seconds ago:

"Whether it appears on the surface to be pedestrian or prestigious, tedious or tremendous, every moment must be infused with love and hard work. There is simply no other way to find long term success in this world" p. 73

So no matter what you do today, tomorrow or next week; changing diapers or changing lives do it with ALL YOU'VE GOT! Genuinely WORK HARD and Success (regardless how you measure it) will find you!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday: Dance With Life

(Image via Bambi Weavils FB page)

During a recent "music therapy" session I had with my husband I re-discovered my LOVE for the song "Dance with Life (The Brilliant Light)" by Bryan Ferry. I love the lyrics, vibe and overall message. Oh and Yes, I said music therapy. My definition: Cocktails and a full exploration or journey through my iTunes library and CD collection, memory lane walk and wine infused sing-a-long time which is completely FUN and CATHARTIC at the same time. Try it with your spouse or friends. Go song for song in a fabulous musical journey. There is no reason that the therapy session has to be booze infused either but I fear the sober version would be a little scary with my singing voice!

Listen to the track above - I did not make this video but some of the images are BEAUTIFUL!

I LOVE this lyric: "Breathe the sweet fresh air
And make every second your last
And I'll touch you from the world I wake in
Make the most of the present and the past
I need to dance with life"

Back to the point. It made me think about life and our daily grind as a dance, where YOU need to LEAD, not let it lead you. Imagine waking each day and you have a choice of the music (soundtrack), the dance type/style, wardrobe, pace and partner. Your life and how you experience your daily dance is ultimately up to YOU. Let's see; today seems like a Viennese Waltz type day, I'm a little bit slower paced, close in hold with my chosen partner (my fabulous husband David), not sure of the soundtrack yet but perhaps the Bryan Ferry song?
Some people are overwhelmed by life and need to take a breath and maybe use this metaphor, on a day-by-day basis. Ask yourself when you rise to face the day ahead, based on your feelings, energy level and obligations "what will my dance be today?" Freestlye? Argentine Tango? Waltz? Belly Dance? Strip Tease? Solo? Partnered? there are so many different dance types and styles you are bound to find one that metaphorically suits your life. What a fun approach to your daily grind - where you take the LEAD! All of our lives and circumstances differ greatly but I feel the Dance with Life metaphor to be universal.

What will your dance be today? from the ballroom to the boardroom it is ultimately your choice! will you let someone else lead? or will YOU take the lead and leave your brilliant light behind?

Kelly Osbourne & Dace Pro Louis VanAmstel - Dancing with the Stars

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Tablescape Tribute: Gianni Versace

Anyone who knows me, knows my favourite fashion designer is the late Gianni Versace.  I jump at the chance to have a theme party or dinner party. Here is my Versace-esqe presentation!

(Click on Images to ENLARGE)

A Tablescape Tribute: On a usual evening I entertain in a way I call “Fabulous Lite” not too much fuss or formality. Recently for a fab dinner for four I was inspired to create a TableScape Tribute to the late great Gianni Versace. He has been a creative inspiration for me since the tender age of 9 when I used to sneak into my sister’s room and remove all the Avedon shot Versace ads from her stacks of Vogue’s, I’ve seen EVERY runway show and dreamed of a day I would wear the now classic bondage dress with safety pins to an event. He was a fashion genius whose life was tragically cut short in 1997. It is my personal belief that there has been a gaping hole in Italian high-fashion since then. I converted this inspiration into a full evening of food and fun! First I created and sent a digital invitation to my guests (go paperless and save the trees) which includes a black and white photo of Gianni and his signature Medusa logo along with all the dinner deets.

How did I put it all together? Let’s start with the table.

My tablescape was all about combining elements I currently had in my home, re-purposing them and purchasing small accents that are fresh; it is the details that make a tablescape a success. First I covered my espresso colored dining table with a cream table cloth and a used a velvet Versace scarf with gold medusa logo’s as a “runner” down the center of the table.

Tablescape TIP: Use a scarf from your own collection/closet to add an edge to a blah table cloth that is in line with your theme or color scheme.

I placed 3 champagne glasses filled with water to act as the “anchor” of my table to serve as chic mini vases for the Spider Mums I purchased that morning fresh from the local grocer. I set the wine decanter beside the glasses to let the California Pino Noir breath before the feast. Each place setting had a copy of the menu laid between the salad bowl and the plate. I opted not to use the expected cloth napkins but used my monogramed paper napkins (“H"– for my husband’s last name) in black and white.

I also re-invented the “napkin ring" by using real cocktail rings from my own jewelry collection. It gave a glamorous twist to the traditional plastic napkin ring and was a part of my fashion theme. A single cream Pillar candle perched on a tiny saucer was the center of the table flanked by the powdered Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and dried chilies for the Entrée. At each end of the Versace logo Scarf/Runner was the last 2 Spider Mum tops that were left over from the bunch I purchased; waste not want not. I wanted to make sure that I incorporated all of the flowers into the table. The dishes were from a set of china service for 6 that I had purchased years ago in a Versace-Esque print with black and yellow tones. I hand painted the chargers from silver to a gold metallic to set the Entrée plates on. I had the chargers on hand (all in silver) from my wedding reception that I re-use during the holiday season. A little re-styling in gold acrylic paint and Voila! Instant gilded chargers that Gianni would have been proud of.

The Menu:
The menu was comprised of Appetizer, Salad, Bread, Entrée/Main Course as well as a stellar dessert and wine. The menu was essentially meat free as my husband and I are Pesco-vegetarians; we eat some fish, dairy products, and eggs along with plant foods; Our diet is plant-based. I offered a small portion of seafood as an appetizer. Jumbo Prawns served cold with a cocktail sauce I made myself.

The salad was created using organic California mixed greens (including Spinach), red onion, mushroom & green Apples and almond shavings with a Poppy Seed dressing.

I served Focaccia bread sticks halved with a side plate of Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil and fresh pressed Garlic.

I wanted the Entrée to be pasta since the theme features an Italian designer but presented in a non-traditional way. No Spaghetti and Meatballs here; I served a 3 mushroom and leek pasta in a white wine cream sauce topped with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Finally for dessert I created a caramel, creamed cheese and heath bar dip served with green apples.

How did I do it?? Dinner Recipes & TipsAppetizer:

Purchased fresh jumbo prawns from the seafood counter at the local grocer. If that is not available purchase them frozen and thaw. I arranged them around the top of Martini Glasses and filled the center with a cocktail sauce that I created using:

•Ketchup (any type – I use Heinz; there is really is no other Keinz, truly!)
•Horse Radish
•Worcestershire sauce
•Fresh Squeezed lemon juice
•Garlic powder
There is really no “measuring” involved with this sauce. Eye-ball and taste as you go along. Use more ketchup than horseradish (unless you like it really hot), a splash or two of the Worcestershire sauce, squeeze in a lemon wedge or two and use the garlic powder to taste! Mix together and fill your martini glass. Chill in fridge until you are ready to serve.

I baked an Artisan Focaccia purchased at Albertson’s. If the local grocery does not have a bake option buy one that is ready to eat. You can warm it in the oven at 350 for a few minutes. I prepared side plates using half Balsamic Vinegar and Light Olive Oil. In the center of this liquid Yin/Yang I freshly pressed 2-3 garlic cloves. Use the bread for mopping.

•Organic California mixed greens including spinach
•Red Onion
•White Mushrooms
•Almond Slivers (small bag)
•Green Apples (2)
•Poppy Seed Dressing
Chop ingredients, mix with greens and toss with dressing! DONE! Adjust to the number of guests. TIP: Chop the green apples just before you serve to prevent the “browning effect”, you can also use lemon juice to slow the process down if you have to pre-make your salad. The greens get “soggy” fast so at the last minute apply the Poppy dressing.

Entrée / Main:

•Pasta: Spaghetti (I used white but you can choose the whole grain/brown alternative)
•Mushrooms (White, Shiitake, Mini-bella’s You can use a combination of ANY 3 types you like)
•Leeks (2)or more depending on the number of guests.
•White Wine (Dry)- Use a wine of your choice.
•Whipping Cream (1/2 pint Liquid – found with the half/half & milk section)
•Garlic (I combine powder and fresh cloves)
The sauce does not take much time to make. Chop leeks, separate and soak. TIP: Let your leeks swim!! A leek is a layered veg that usually has dirt or grit between the layers. Chop into rings and separate them into a bowl of cold water (use your thumb to press and separate the individual rings). Let the separated rings soak and you will see the dirt sink to the bottom as the leeks float! Scoop them of the top and place in a pan with some Oilve oil. Add chopped garlic cloves in with the leaks and the olive oil and cook on high for a few minutes before adding the mushroom blend.

TIP: to speed up prep time buy pre-sliced mushrooms. Add the mushrooms to the leek and garlic mixture in the pan (you can always use garlic powder or combine the two).

Add a half a cup (or more) of your dry white wine. How much you use will depend on how many guests you have. Cook the mixture on high to burn off the alcohol. Once the mushrooms are cooks and appear to soften pour in whipping cream and stir. I usually use less than a half a pint. Cook for a few more minutes; pour over pasta, top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (you can substitute with powder) and SERVE! DELISH!

•1 brick of Creamed Cheese (I use Philadelphia)
•1 Table Spoon Brown Sugar
•Vanilla Extract
•Heath Bar pieces (or SKOR depending on what is available, find bagged in baking isle)
•Green Apples
Let the Creamed Cheese get soft and mix the brown sugar and Vanilla extract in with it. Spread it out into a glass pie plate or glass cake pan (Again depending on how large your party is). Take the caramel (you can use the spreadable or the ice cream topping) and make a layer above the creamed cheese. Top with Heath bar toffee pieces and let cool in the fridge. TIP: Chop the green apples you will use to dip at the last minute to prevent the “browning” I referred to earlier. OR you can try the lemon juice trick to slow the browning process down until you are ready to treat your guests to this decadent dessert.

Attire – Host Look:
I wanted something sleek and minimal as the hostess and chef of this event; I know the polar opposite of the style esthetic of the man we were paying homage to, but this dinner was on the home carpet, not the red carpet. I wore a black wrap dress that is figure friendly and budget friendly (Old Navy). Black patent leather peep-toe pumps with wooden logo heel stems from FENDI (BlueFly), Vintage Cameo clasp bracelet (Evolution Vintage) and statement earrings (Forever 21). A Chic ponytail with a repurposed gold tone broken Vintage necklace with black onyx stones used as an instant DIY hair accessory; just add bobby pins. My makeup was minimal as well. I used M.A.C “Dazzlelight” Eye shadow as a base for a little bit of shine and “Grain” in the crease. Maybelline New York Lash Stiletto mascara in Black. Creamola liner on my lip with M.A.C Lusture Lipstick in “Pretty Please”(A41) as a base and my YSL Golden Gloss on top to shine. On fingers and toes I used Versace Nail Lacquer in sheer gold (V2017).

No matter what the occasion use what personally inspires you to inspire your next dinner party, tabelscape, menu and look. We had our fashion feast with the soft sounds of Elton John in the background (he was Gianni’s BFF after all). We talked business, life and fashion. Not only did my guests get to experience a Versace Tablescape Tribute but they got a lesson in fashion history too!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Obsessed: Vestige Jewelry

For those of you who know me and/or read this blog know that lately I have been obsessed with jewels; costume, fine, contemporary, vintage, antique. I LOVE it all and I am an equal opportunity fashion offender. In my hunt for the most amazing an unique pieces I stumbled upon VESTIGE JEWELRY.

It is the passion of Tracy Glantz who designs AND makes each piece by hand using recycled metals, vintage crystals and unique mixing of the past and present. The contrast of her creations are STUNNING! and I immediately fell in love.

She is into all of the things I love and respect. She is a creative entrepreneur who is recycling and using elements of the past to style into the future. She has a unique perspective offering her clients custom, one-of-a-kind pieces with a "something for everyone" attitude. She is also inspired and ready to use her creations to make women feel beautiful AND pushes her creative boundaries with every piece! BRAVO! It is creative people like you that make my crazy world go round!

I spoke to Tracy about her Vestige Venture recently;

LISA: What inspired you to start your business and use Recycled/Vintage materials?

TRACY: I started my business, because of my love of jewelry. It makes sense to be responsible this day in time and use recycled, re purposed, and vintage materials. It makes a WOW statement, and adds dramatic elements that are unique and timeless to wear.

LISA: What inspires your pieces?

TRACY: My jewelry is inspired by many things I create, but to name a few; Old Hollywood Glamour, Art Deco, Baroque, Victorian, and Steampunk.

LISA: What is your favorite piece and why?

TRACY: My favorite piece is my first design creation which is a charm necklace. It’s derived from an older piece I have had for many years. It’s as simple as having one piece to inspire you. I just kept pushing my creative boundaries.

LISA: Where can my readers purchase your items?

TRACY: They can purchase the items on my web site

LISA: Do you design AND make each piece?

TRACY: Yes, I design and make each piece by hand.

LISA: Tell our readers about you. Who is the woman behind Vestige Jewelry.

TRACY: I am currently living in Austin, Texas and a proud pet parent to my little adopted dog named Ozzy. I moved here from Dallas, Texas 2 years ago where I am originally from. I have worked as a network engineer in the telecommunications industry for 14 years. I started working from home two years ago, and it wasn’t until then I tapped into my creative ability. I had more time to pursue my passion for jewelry. I was grateful to have an opportunity to work from home, because not having those structured stresses freed my creative thought process and I was much more relaxed. I just keep striving to achieve more, and proud how my designs make people feel.

I am excited to make my first purchase from VJ; the issue is choosing which one that I NEED first!! reptile bracelet perhaps???

Stay tuned for Tracy to add more pieces to her already amazing collection!! Follow her on TWITTER read her BLOG & LIKE her FACEBOOK page.